Nawi Island Marina nears completion
Ron Valenta, Nawi Island Marina investor advisor, discusses the long road to completion for this unique project in Northern Fiji…
One of the most interesting infrastructure developments in the South Pacific region is being constructed in Savusavu Bay, on Fiji’s northern island, Vanua Levu. A geographical curiosity, the horseshoe-shaped Nawi Island seemed perfectly formed for a marina, and after a long and challenging development process, it is finally nearing completion. SuperyachtNews speaks with Nawi Island Marina Investor’s Advisor, Ron Valenta, to check in on the progress.
Nawi Island has invested, in partnership with the Fiji Development bank since 2015, with the current total investment sitting at around 80 million Fiji Dollars (or close to 35 million Euros). There is also reported to be a further 24 million Fiji Dollars slated for 2022 to help complete the marina and central facilities and service centre. The Marina will comprise 132 berths, 21 for superyachts up to 85m. Despite COVID enforced setbacks, the Nawi Island Marina hopes to open by the end of 2022.
After initially acquiring the land from a US-based owner, who Valenta explains owned the land but had never actually visited Fiji, in the mid-2000s, the journey to completion has been long. Having first explored Savusavu around the same time, I recall an area perfect for cruising yachts, with only limited infrastructure for anything larger. The surrounding area is geographically diverse and environmentally pristine, which is why it has attracted a number of eco-resorts and the world-renowned Jean-Michel Cousteau resort (environmentalist and son of the legendary marine explorer.) The Northern Island of Vanua Levu itself is far less visited and populated than its southern neighbour Viti Levu island, which hosts the two largest cities in Fiji, Lautoka and the capital Suva, plus the Nadi International Airport. The addition of a superyacht Marina facility in Savusavu, and potential service capabilities may be the key to opening up the relatively untouched North to superyacht visitation.
Artist rendition, Nawi Island Marina
“A major selling point for us is the cyclone proof certification. We are anticipating a category 5 cyclone marina rating. And, it is our belief that we will be the only Marina between Hawaii and New Zealand to offer this.” Starts Valenta. As can be seen in the images below, the shape of the island itself forms a naturally sheltered bay, and when combined with significant ground gear, offers a protected location for yachts, in a region that sees regular cyclones.
“Fiji can be proud that investors such as Nawi Island are still confident in, and realise the potential that is Fiji," continues Valenta. "There is a unique re-awakening to the potential and boost such developments will have for the economy, especially through the post COVID period and at a time where our people need any means of hope and confidence in their abilities to deliver world class Facilities at their doorstep.”
Developing and opening a Marina is complicated at the best of times, and with the uncertainty of the last two years, the Nawi Island Marina investors have had to take a more cautious approach to the final stage of development, as Valenta explains: “There will be some residential portions and then eventually a branded hotel, which we started on in the latter part of last year. We have multiple interested parties, but really, with all the supply chain issues and now the Ukraine Conflict, the material costs are up over 65 per cent. So, we are going to sit on that until the supply chain gets a little bit normal because clearly, you can only make the investment once."
Artist rendition, Nawi Island Marina
“With respect to the further development plans,” Valenta explains, "We have a large parcel of land where we are developing a shipyard facility closer to Savusavu. We are currently at the RFP (Request for proposal) stage, and at some point, in the foreseeable future, we are going to have that to offer also." Having a service facility, with a 75-tonne travel lift will offer significant service options for smaller haul-outs of up to 150 boats. Crucially, the ability to lift tenders and chase boats in the tropics is an added bonus. Unchartered reefs and unfamiliar territories are part and parcel of exploring the Pacific, and inevitable wear and tear are often sustained that may require repairs.
Valenta is also eager to highlight that the investment group is working to ensure that the development benefits the local economy. The potential for positive economic impact from large yacht visitation is significant, and by working with a range of advisors, both local and international, Valenta believes that Nawi Island Is on the right trajectory to help lift the region. "We have been working with The Matanataki Group and Jodi Smith. They are very focused on the environment, and she has multiple funds where she's raised money to do some wonderful things. We're going to partner with her on a range of projects; Mangroves are one, and she also has a programme for educating small business people and funding small business. We anticipate at least 23 new small businesses being started up as a result of the marina opening."
We will continue to follow the developments in the north of Fiji, and the wider region, both key topics in the lead up to The Superyacht Forum - Pacific Tour.
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Image Credit: Nawi Island Marina
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